Saturday, April 25, 2009

Slain in the Spirit

This is a term that was popular with the charismatic movement of the 1960's and 70's. The term is still used widely in many pentecostal circles today. It is a term that describes and experience of falling under the power of the Holy Spirit. I question both the genuineness of this experience and the Biblical authority for it (meaning there is no Biblical authority to support the experience). 

The closest thing to Biblical support would be the experience that the Apostle Paul had on the damascus road before he became an apostle. He was persecuting the church and committing Christians to prison. On the Damascus road he saw a bright light, fell to the ground, heard the voice of Jesus, whom he was persecuting, and went away blind. Nowhere does the Scriptures tell us that the Spirit of God overpowered him and caused him to be slain in the Spirit. 

The other Scripture that  comes to mind is when the prophet Ezekiel had his vision of the wheels of fire. The Scriptures indicate that he prostrated himself before the presence of God. However, he was not overpowered and knocked to the earth.

I have seen the prayer lines of the 1960's, 70's and 80's. People come forward for prayer forming a line. The minister touches their foreheads to pray with them. Suddenly the recipients of prayer fall on the floor one by one as their foreheads are touched. Someone covers the women's legs with a blanket. They are said to have been "slain in the Spirit." Somehow, those who are slain in the spirit are just a little more spiritual than others.

In a church where I pastored, I was praying with several members at the front of the church. Suddenly, several of them, one by one collapsed and fell on the floor. Somebody else covered the women's legs with little red blankets. I didn't quite know what to make of all of this since this was new to me. When the service was over, everybody got up off the floor and went home.

A few weeks later, one of the ladies who had been "slain in the spirit" came to my office with a great concern. He concern was, that there was another lady in the church, in that same service who was also "slain in the spirit." Her concern was, that the other lady was a troublemaker in the church. I already knew that. But this was my chance to do a little teaching. I had to explain to her that falling on the floor was not a mark of spirituality, and that, in fact, there was no scriptural basis for it. She said, "But what about Ezekiel?" I said, "I'm glad you brought him up. Ezekiel, after he had prostrated himself the scriptures teach, 'the Spirit of God entered into him and set him upon his feet.'" This was a new revelation to her. It's a shame that this type of activity has actually distorted and harmed the true message of scripture.

Well, this blog concludes my series picking on the pentecostals, of which I am one. But I am no longer one on the sense that I once was. The church of the Nazarene is now my church home. The church is solid, so is our pastor, whom we love dearly. Am I 100% in agreement with their doctrines? No. But I am in agreement with their ministry and vision. Westminster Church of the Nazarene has a vision and is effectively reaching people in the community. So, perhaps, I'm a pentecostal Nazarene? I hope they don't mind.

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